The spring VHT International and Horse Trials kicked off today at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia. The FEI classes, Advanced/Intermediate, Intermediate, and Preliminary levels began their competition with all three phases of eventing running concurrently.
Lauren Kieffer and D.A. Duras took the early lead in the CCI3*-S, earning a score of 26.0 in dressage, and holding their top position following a double-clear trip around Chris Barnard’s show jumping track.
Kieffer is delighted with the 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, who was recovering from a minor injury for much of the 2018 competition season.
“He’s come out at a different level than when he was last competing,” Kieffer said. “Because he’s young, we took longer and erred on the side of caution [bringing him back]. I think in the long run it actually did the horse a lot of good. He’s come back really strong, really straight, and a lot more mature.”
D.A. Duras returned to competing in Ocala this April and most recently finished third at the Jersey Fresh International CCI4*-S. Their plan is to head up to Canada to compete at the MARS Equestrian Bromont CCI4*-L in June.
“We’ll let him go his own pace tomorrow,” Kieffer said. “The course looks nice. It will be a good fitness run — it’s pretty much all uphill.”
Close behind in second place is Phillip Dutton with Fernhill Revelation. They sit on a two-phase score of 26.3. Kimmy Cecere and Landmark’s Monaco are in hot pursuit on 29.9.
The CCI2*-L is making its debut here at the spring VHT International. Topping the division after the first phase is Will Faudree and Mama’s Magic Way with a score of 22.0. Doug Payne and Baymax are second with 25.5 while Arden Wildasin and Southern Sun lie third with a 26.4.
Dutton leads the way in the CCI2*-S riding Get Ready Get Set on a two-phase score of 29.7. They are followed by Laura Welsh and Toute Va Bien in second (31.1) and Emily Beshear and Templewood third (31.4).
The lower levels will begin their competition Saturday while the FEI classes take to the cross-country courses designed by Andy Bowles and John Michael Durr.
Virginia Horse Trials is pleased to welcome a record number of entries for the spring event, with about 440 horse and rider combinations. There was also an increase in the FEI entrants with the addition of the CCI2*-L to the schedule.
“I’d like to thank people for choosing to come to Virginia Horse Trials. There are a lot of events on the calendar, and we appreciate that they save a place for us on their schedule,” Organizer Andy Bowles said. “Our aim is to focus on rider and horse experience at every level, whether they are amateurs and professionals. We want them to go home having had a positive experience and look forward to coming back.”
The spring eventing season in the Midwest is always a toss-up due to unpredictable weather. Will it rain, will it be sunny, or will it be a snowstorm? No one knows! Mid-America Combined Training Association’s (MACTA) first cross-country schooling of the season was cancelled in March due to extremely muddy footing conditions and by the time our April dates came around, COVID-19 was in full force and we were unable to host our cross-country schooling and schooling show.
The FEI has published its Policy for Enhanced Competition Safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at assisting organizers and national federations with the safe resumption of international equestrian events in line with national and local restrictions.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has approved additional modifications to the qualification period for the 2020 USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC) presented by Nutrena Feeds. The AEC is scheduled to take place August 25-30, 2020 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky, and the USEA is doing everything possible to ensure a safe and successful Championship, while also ensuring fair opportunities for all.
This article will be updated to include statements as they are released from upcoming USEA recognized events regarding actions they are taking due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).